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New Flame-Full Story

“I’m sorry, Melony is on the other line, may I take a message?” my friend Tisha spoke in her most professional voice. “Chris? Ok Chris, does she have your number? Good, I’ll give her the message. You have a great day.”

I breathed a sigh of relief as Tisha lied for me for the umpteenth time. “Thank you, girl. I owe you one.”

“One? Nah, honey. That was like the 5th time this week. Twice today. Why are you lying to this man? Just tell him the truth!” Tisha scoffed.

I rolled my eyes because she knew better. I was nowhere near as outspoken as she was. That’s one of the things that made this friendship work; we balanced each other out. “Tisha, you know I’m not going to tell him that. I’ll just tell him…I don’t know. Something.”

“He’ll stop calling and texting you if you gone head and tell him you are too old to have to deal with three minutes worth of sex.”

Tisha was so crass but unfortunately, she was so right. I’d been dating Chris for about three weeks and while he was a nice guy, his sex was God awful terrible. The first time we slept together, he was finished before I even knew he began. If I was going to let him into this wonderland, he was going to have to stay for a while and ride all the rides.

“Whatever. He’ll get the hint eventually.” After the other night when I practically ran from his house, I thought he surely would have gotten the hint. I was not so lucky. “Anyway girl. What you want to eat for lunch today?”

“Zaxby’s. And you’re buying. Let’s go,” Tisha said shutting down her computer and getting her purse.

I laughed at my friend and did the same. We left the building and headed to town for lunch. Tisha and I worked at South Georgia Technical College with the Move on When Ready program. We worked closely with Americus-Sumter High School counselors, teachers and principals to enroll high school kids into college classes for college credit.

I absolutely loved this program. It gives kids a chance to start college or to even earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. It’s great for kids looking to take up a trade or to go into college with two years under their belt. I really wish they had a program like this when I was in school but at least my sons Darius and Daylon were able to take advantage of it.

Since I was buying lunch, I made Tisha drive. Before we made it to Zaxby’s, my cell phone rang and I figured it was one of my boys. I was surprised it was my ex-husband David.

“Hey, Mel. You busy?” he asked in his deep baritone voice.

“Just going to lunch with Tisha. What’s up?”

“Oh ok. Tell Tisha I said what’s up. Can you call me later then?”

“David, what do you need? I can talk now,” I said while rolling my eyes. This man has always been a push over.

“What are you going to get Daylon for his birthday? He mentioned some shoes to me but I think we need to look at getting him stuff for college.”

I dropped my head and pinched the bridge of my nose at David’s insistence in calling me for insignificant things. I was happy that even after being divorced for two years, we were able to be cordial. Actually, we were more than cordial; David and I got a long better than most married people I know. However, it irritated me to no end when he called for stuff like this. But old habits die hard I guess; after being married for twenty years, he was just used to talking to me.

“I’m not sure, David. I haven’t really thought about it. I am with you about the stuff for college. That is, if he ever narrows down a school,” I lamented. It was the second semester of his senior year and Daylon hadn’t picked a school yet. Not that he didn’t have his choice of schools. He was already accepted into Fort Valley, Georgia Southern and Savannah State. Just the fact that he was accepted into more than one college was a far cry from where he was a few years ago.

“Yeah, two weeks ago I thought he was sold on Savannah State after the second visit. But now he wants to go to a HUBC.”

“HBCU,” I corrected. “I don’t really care where he goes. He just needs to make a decision. Deadlines are approaching.” Because I worked at a college, I knew the dangers of waiting to the last minute to turn things in, especially when it came to housing and financial aid.

“You’re right. I’ll talk to him again this weekend,” David informed me. “Enjoy your lunch. I’ll talk with you later.”

“Ok then. Bye,” I said and hanging up my phone. Tisha and I made it to Zaxby’s and because we didn’t go to lunch until 1, we missed most of the lunch time crowd. We ordered our meals and sat down in the two seat booths. I poured my bleu cheese dressing on my buffalo bleu zalad and dug in. I loved Zaxby’s salads. I just wish they weren’t so big because I hated to waste food so I had to eat it all.

“If you weren’t out here hoeing around, I’d swear you and David were still married,” Tisha commented while dipping one of her chicken tenders in Zax sauce.

I almost choked on my zalad. “Tisha I am not hoeing around! I am just enjoying my freedom!”

Tisha looked at me pensively. “How many men have you dated since your divorce? Hell, let’s not even go back two years. How many men have you dated this month?”

“Tisha. Stop being so damn dramatic! I go on dates. I don’t sleep with every man I date. I’m just out here enjoying my life. I think I deserve that,” I reasoned.

No one could convince me that I didn’t deserve to have a good time, go on dates and enjoy the attention, gifts and occasional sex from men. Even though I was two years away from being 40, I was nowhere near old. People were often surprised that I had sons that were 20 and 18. I wasn’t one to brag but I wasn’t the toothpick skinny girl I was back in 1998. The weight I have put on over the years has migrated to all the right places. And now that I was single, I was taking advantage of this newfound attention I earned from men.

David and I got married right after I had Darius. I was 18 and he was 20. We were young, in love and ready to conquer the world as the Watkins. We didn’t quite conquer the world but we did pretty good for ourselves and our children until David lost his job. Even though I was making enough money to support us, it was a struggle and David didn’t take being out of work too well. He was offered jobs but he was looking to make the kind of money he was making at his old job. Even after I told him that was almost impossible in Americus, he turned down jobs. For almost a year, David went on interviews but refused to take jobs because of the pay.

David was an easy-going guy who usually did what I said but with this job thing, his pride clouded his judgement. After a while, money got tight and he was pushed against a wall. He earned his CDL and went out on the road. Even though the money was good, not having my husband here took a toll on me. I kept telling David I needed him here but he insisted he needed to make up for the time he spent not working. Even when Daylon was having problems, David refused to come off the road leaving me to handle him alone.

Daylon lost his mind when he was 14. We try not to mention that time in his life because even now, it hurts me to think about it. Daylon started hanging out with a different crowd of boys and his behavior started to change slowly. At first he was failing tests here and there and skipping a class every so often. Then he escalated to getting into legal trouble. He ended up on probation for fighting at school and stealing from Wal-Mart. The straw that broke the camel’s back was my son being charged with entering an auto. Because he already had charges, he was sent to juvenile detention center. He was arrested on a Friday and Monday was Memorial Day so I couldn’t see him until Tuesday. Those few days were the longest of my life. I couldn’t eat, sleep or function for worrying about my baby.

What I really needed was my husband to come home and help me with our son. I needed him to come home and hold me. But…he couldn’t. At the time he was in Minnesota. Or Texas. Or…hell, I can’t remember where he was. And his weak “he needs to learn his lesson” stance pissed me off so bad. That was the beginning of the end for me.

By the time David came off the road, this marriage was pretty much over for me. And it wasn’t just what happened with Daylon. David was too soft. He wasn’t a take charge kind of guy. I got older and needed something different in my marriage, something David couldn’t provide. I wanted to go on dates. I wanted to go on trips. I wanted to be more spontaneous. I wanted to have fun. I was so bored in my marriage.

He tried to save us but I was already gone. He came off the road and got a job at Lowe’s but that was too little, too late. Once he realized I was done, he didn’t try to fight me. Typical David. He signed the papers without a second thought and freed me from twenty years of monotony.

Tisha was right about one thing; I was absolutely living it up. Now that I was divorced, I was living the life I should have been living for the past twenty years. I traveled. I ate different foods. I cut my hair. I had one-night stands. I dated. I hung out. Even though David and I parted ways, I had no ill feelings towards him. I still loved him but I outgrew our marriage and now I was out here living my best life.

Tisha and I finished our lunch and headed back to work. I forced myself to finish my zalad and now I wasn’t worth a flip. Back at my desk, my phone rang and I prayed it wasn’t Chris again. I recognized the number as the number to Americus-Sumter High North Campus and answered immediately.

“This is Melony, how may I help you?” I answered trying to mask the itis I brought back with me from lunch.

“Melony, this is Joshua Carson from North Campus. How are you today?”

“I’m good Mr. Carson. How are you?” I responded in my perkiest voice. Mr. Carson was all the rage in the school system. He was the new assistant principal and everyone seemed to love him. I have only spoken with him on the phone and sent emails but never met him in person. Because he was new here, he called me a lot with questions about Move on When Ready.

“Good to hear. Listen, Melony. I have to go the board of education this afternoon and I want to stop by your office to run a few things by you. Will you be available?”

“Sure thing. I’ll be here,” I responded.

“Ok, I’ll see you in about an hour?”

“Yes sir. See you then.”

We hung up an I pulled Move on When Ready information to prepare for our meeting. “Hey Tisha, Mr. Carson is coming to meet with me. Do you have any handbooks printed?”

“I have a few. How many does he need?”

“I’m not sure. I just want to have things ready for him.”

Tisha and I printed handbooks and information sheets for him. Most of the questions people had were in the handbook and I wanted to make sure he had the information on hand. I had no problem with him calling or emailing me because he was new to the school system but just in case Tisha or I weren’t available, I wanted him to have access to what he needed to know.

Thirty minutes later, Mr. Carson came strolling into the office. I think everyone in the vicinity stopped when he walked through. He hadn’t said a word but his very presence commanded attention and respect. He was at least 6 feet tall and the way his navy blue suit hung on him was a tell tale sign that he frequented a gym. Even though I was sitting down, I could tell he had deep waves in his low cut hair. He looked like rolled right out of a chocolate factory. I never imagined the man I’d been emailing and talking to for the past few weeks would be this fine.

“Melony?” He asked as he approached me. “Finally I can put a face to the emails. Nice to meet you!”

He extended his hand to me and I shook it. Involuntarily I stuck out my hand and returned his gesture. I was so enthralled with his smile that my brain wasn’t able to do more than one thing at a time.

Noticing I was noticeably stuck, Tisha jumped in and introduced herself. I didn’t even realize I was still shaking his hand. “Mr. Carson, nice to meet you. We’re going to go over here and answer your questions.”

“Please, call me Josh,” he said to Tisha while looking at me.

I shook my head as if I was shaking my sense back into it. “We’ve printed you some material for you to take back to North Campus.”

“Thanks. I know I’ve worried you a lot with all of my questions but I’m really trying to push this program with my freshman.”

“Yes, it’s a really great program and I really hope more kids take advantage of it,” I responded finally getting back into my professional role.

“I’m definitely going to push it.”

We spent the next thirty minutes going over the particulars of Move on When Ready. From financial aid to credits to available programs. He asked a lot of questions and I was able to clarify things for him. He told me he just wanted to be as well versed in the program as possible so he could sell it to parents and students.

“I really wish they had something like this when I was in school,” he admitted.

“I said the same thing. These kids really don’t know the benefit of something like this.”

“Good ol’ Americus coming on up. I love to see my hometown growing like this.”

I raised my eyebrow. “You’re from here?”

“Yes ma’am. Born and raised on the Southside. I went to Americus High and graduated in 02. I went to school at Morehouse and taught a few years in the Atlanta area. When I saw the posting for the AP position here, I jumped at the chance to come back home,” he explained.

“So you left Atlanta to come home to Americus? But why?” Tisha asked incredulously. I was thinking the same thing but didn’t want to ask. Most people that got bit by the ATL bug only came home on holidays or homecoming. Not that they didn’t like where they came from but after living that city life, coming home to the slower pace of Americus wasn’t as appealing. Me, I’d been born and raised here and had no desire to leave.

Josh laughed at Tisha and that million dollar smile almost took my sense again. “Living in Atlanta was cool, if you can handle the traffic. But my granddaddy taught me that it’s my responsibility to pull someone up once you’ve arrived. So I’m here to pull someone up.”

“Very impressive,” I admitted.

“Wait you said you graduated in 02? That makes you what? 33?” Tisha inquired. “You know Keldrin West?”

“Yeah, I know Kel! That was my boy back in school!” Josh said excitedly. “Man, me and that cat used to hang real tough. We kind of lost touch when he went to the military.”

“Kel is my cousin,” Tisha informed him. “He’s still in the military. He’s stationed in California now.”

“That’s what’s up! Tell him I said what’s up when you talk to him,” Josh told Tisha.

“He’s on Facebook. Look him up.”

“I don’t really get on social media like that. It’s not my cup of tea,” Josh stated while getting up from the table we were meeting at. “Ladies, I’ve taken up enough of your time. I’ve got to get back to pushing 9th graders to their greatest potential.”

“Don’t hesitate to call,” I said. Once I realized how it sounded, I tried to clean it up. “If you have questions. About the program.”

Josh smiled and Tisha giggled as I tried to recover. Josh left and I was finally able to regain my composure. A man that fine was a breath of fresh air.

“Girl, what the hell is wrong with you?” Tisha asked. “You’re too damn old to act like that around a man.”

I popped my lips at Tisha. “Whatever. I wasn’t acting like nothing.”

“Of all the people you can lie to, why lie to yourself?”

I threw a pen at her, hitting her on the arm. She feigned real pain causing everyone in the office to look in our direction. We laughed and walked back to our desks to finish our work for the day. Right before five o clock, my office phone rang. I wanted to ignore it because it was too close to quitting time. But I answered it anyway in my most ‘it’s almost time to get off and I’m only answering because I have to so you better not keep me on the phone for more than five minutes’ voice.

“Melony. Good, I caught you,” Josh said cheerfully.

Lawd I was so glad I answered. Apparently, I hadn’t had gotten my fine man fill for the day. And I see he didn’t hadn’t gotten enough of me either. “Yes sir you just did catch me. You have three minutes.”

Josh laughed heartily. “Well let me get straight to the point then. Let me take you to dinner.”

My breath caught in my throat and I grew silent. I’d been on countless dates since signing my freedom two years ago but for some reason, Josh asking me out was…different. “Ummm…”

“I just want to get to know you better. And if it makes you more comfortable, we can talk about Move on When Ready. You know, just to make it a business dinner.” His tone wasn’t really a request. One of my biggest complaints about my ex-husband was that he wasn’t a take charge kind of man. Josh, on the other hand, was pretty much telling me to go on a date with him. And I liked his confidence. So what was my apprehension again?

“Ok. That’s fine. When?” I finally agreed.

“How about this weekend? I love my Americus but there aren’t too many food options here. Saturday night. I’ll pick you up at 6.”

His take charge attitude was making me like putty in his hands. I mindlessly agreed and gave him my number so he wouldn’t have to call me on my work phone. Once we got off the phone, Tisha was giving me a nasty side eye.

“So you’re going to give the young man a chance, huh?”

“Tisha, it’s just a date. Stop making it more than what it is,” I said avoiding her stare while I gathered my things to leave.

“Oh ok. That’s what we’re going with. Cool, I can do that.”

“Girl, bye. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“How do you get almost 40 and pretty much triple your body count? I wanna be like you when I grow up!”

For the second time today I threw a pen at Tisha sending her screaming and running out the door. “I have no intentions of sleeping with this man. He’s only 13 years older than Darius. I’m just going on a date. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Tisha rolled her eyes, both of us knowing that with as fine as Josh is, there was a really strong possibility that there was definitely going to be more.

Part II

“So you don’t know where you’re going? How are you supposed to pack?” Tisha asked looking over everything I had laid out on my bed. She had a glass of Red Electra in her hand, her second of the night. By the time she got halfway through this glass, she wouldn’t be any help to me.

“Nope. All he said was pack for comfort,” I responded, completely stumped. While I loved Josh’s spontaneity, I was having difficulty packing for this weekend.

Last week Joshua asked what my plans were for the next weekend. When I told him I had nothing planned but relaxing, he invited me to Atlanta. For what, I don’t know. I was sure it would be something fun and exciting because that’s the type of man Josh was.

Since our first date almost a month ago, things have been nothing but non-stop surprises from him. Our first date set the tone. We went to dinner at Cheddar’s in Albany and when we both admitted we were competitive, we ended up at Fun Park bowling. Our dates since then have been at Fun Park for miniature golf, to Rigby’s in Warner Robins to ride go karts and First Friday downtown. He wasn’t a dinner and a movie kind of guy and that was fine by me. I never knew where I was going when Josh wanted to take me out. So I shouldn’t be surprised by this trip this weekend.

“Are you going to finally give this man some this weekend, Mel?” Tisha asked. She downed the rest of her second glass and I knew things were about to get all the way live. She would probably be staying here tonight and I didn’t mind because Daylon was with David.

“I wasn’t planning on it,” I responded causing her to raise her eyebrow. We both knew I was probably lying. She handed me the red and black teddy on my bed and I snatched it out her hand and threw it next to my bag. “He’s a great guy and all but sex will only complicate that.”

“You don’t want to be boo’d up? I mean, you haven’t been seeing anyone else since you started playing weekend warrior with him,” Tisha observed.

“I know but, I’m not tying to get into something serious with him.”

Tisha and I have had this conversation since our first date. Josh and I talked at length and he told me he had a purpose in dating and that purpose was to find a woman he could grow with. I tried to shut that down because after being married for twenty years, a relationship was the last thing on my mind. But I couldn’t deny that spending time with Josh was great.

“Hey mama, where you going?” Daylon said standing in my doorway causing me and Tisha to scream. I hadn’t even heard him come in the house.

“Jesus, Daylon you scared the crap out of me! What are you doing here?” I asked trying to slow my beating heart down. I had to sit on the bed to catch my breath.

“My bad, mama. I forgot my controller to my game. Hey Ms. Tisha,” Daylon said. He asked me again where I was going.

“Why, Daylon? Do I question you about where you’re going?”

“Yes, you do. All the time,” my son responded. His face, the exactly replica of his daddy, registered frustration.

When David and I divorced, our sons didn’t seem too effected by it. They were older and since David was still in town, it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been. It wasn’t until I started going on dates that my boys started to have a problem and became super protective of me. I tried to do it the weekends he wasn’t here, but Daylon did see me going out occasionally. Darius lived with his dad because as a student at Georgia Southwestern, his dad’s apartment in Troy Hill was closer to campus than our house on Mayo Street. A mama’s boy at heart, Darius either came by or called every day. It took me a minute to get used to not sharing a house with three men but some days, I did get lonely.

“Well I’m supposed to. I’m your mama. It’s my job to know where you are,” I reasoned.

“And I’m the man of our house so I think I should know where you are going,” my son announced.

Tisha almost choked on her wine and my eyes got low. “Daylon James Watkins, I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I suggest you rethink your life right now.”

My son looked down, half out of embarrassment, half out of stopping himself from getting punched in the throat. He grumbled sorry and walked towards the front door.

“Mel, why didn’t you just lie to him and tell him you’re going out of town with me?” Tisha asked.

“Cause, I’m too old to lie. It’s not his business where I’m going or who I’m going with,” I reasoned.

“Yeah but…”

“But what?”

“If it will make him feel better, why not just lie to him?”

“Tisha,” I scoffed. “I don’t owe him any explanations. I do respect my boy’s feelings and go out when they aren’t here but I’m not going to lie just to make him feel better. I don’t think that’s necessary. Besides, I’m the adult and he’s the child.”

“Ok, ok, chill out girl. You need to finish packing and I need to go home,” Tisha informed me looking for her keys.

“Girl, I know you don’t think you’re about to drive home. Either I will take you or you will stay here.”

Tisha rolled her eyes at me. “I’ll stay here cause you need my help with this weekend.” She came over to where I was and put the lingerie in the bag. “You’re going to need this.”

******

Saturday afternoon, Josh and I checked into Sheraton Suites on Cobb Parkway in Atlanta. He changed into jeans and tennis shoes so I figured wherever we were going was laid back. Josh really didn’t have it in him to dress down. I would have been content to chill in this room and take advantage of the pools while enjoying drinks at Martini’s bar. But I changed out of my dress and threw on jeans and a PINK shirt.

“So you’re really not going to tell me where we are going? I had such a hard time packing without knowing what we were doing,” I stated as we were leaving the hotel.

“You’ll see in about two minutes,” he said smiling. He really loved keeping me in suspense.

As promised, we arrived in a few minutes. My mouth dropped when he pulled into iFly. “Josh! Are you serious!”

“Yes ma’am! It can never be said I don’t listen.”

He was definitely a good listener. On maybe our second or third date, I mentioned wanting to do something adventurous like skydiving or scuba diving. And here he was, getting me off the couch and into the air. I smiled broadly before leaning over to kiss him.

“Thank you, Josh. Really. This is…this is probably the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me,” I admitted.

“Not a problem, Mel. I just want to make you happy.”

I’m sure he meant something deeper but for now, I was just going to make it apply to the moment.

“Are you ready?” He asked.

“Let’s do this!”

******

A few hours later, Josh and I were sipping on a glass of wine while enjoying the indoor pool. I was still reeling from the exhilaration of skydiving.

“So how close are you to wanting to do the real thing?” he asked. He was reveling in my excitement.

“I’m going to plan it. Maybe for my birthday. That was such a rush!”

“Have you always been this adventurous?” Josh asked while refiling my wine glass.

“Nope,” I replied while taking a sip of the sweet wine. “All of my life was simple, boring. I was a wife and a mother. There was no adventure in that. My ex-husband and I just…we existed but never had much fun. Or excitement. I’ve really started to live my life and I’m loving every second of it.”

“So no trips, no cruises, no exotic beach vacations?”

“David wasn’t that kind of guy. He was safe, predictable. But he never knew to try different things because we were so stuck in the status quo. I was 18 when we got married and I wasn’t the same woman he married. He was the same man but I was different. My needs changed and he couldn’t.”

“That’s why it ended?”

Two years after my marriage ended, it still wasn’t that easy to refer to us in the past tense. I guess a part of me still loved him but I felt like it was over. I have to admit that I miss him sometimes but that just because I was with him so long. I gave Josh the rundown of the last few years of my marriage and by the nodding of his head, I think he understood why it wasn’t salvageable.

“Enough about me…why are you single?” I asked. He spent a lot of time asking about me but rarely talked about himself.

Now it was his turn to exhale. “I just haven’t found her yet. I’ve dated some great women before but they were missing something. My granddaddy told me that once I found her, I’d know it because I’d go all out for her.”

He looked at me and while I knew it was obvious what he meant, I couldn’t continue to let his comments slide. “Look, Josh, I think you’re a great guy and I have a lot of fun with you but…I’m just not ready to date seriously. I was married for twenty years, divorced for two. I can’t think about getting into another serious relationship right now.”

“I hear you, Mel,” Josh said completely undeterred by my spill. “I’m a patient man.”

I chuckled at him but I needed him to understand I meant what I said. “You can be patient Josh. But I’m not changing my mind.”

He laughed and then asked me what I wanted to do for the rest of the weekend. “Oh you don’t have any more plans?”

“Nope. Today was the pinnacle of my spontaneity. I’m tapped out now,” he joked. “Any ideas?”

“Maybe one or two,” I winked. I stood and started gathering my things to head to the room.

“Where are you going?” he asked perplexed.

“Well, Josh I’m adventurous but not this much,” I winked. “I need to thank you properly for today.”

An hour later, Josh and I were basking in the glow of a marathon sex romp. I was trying to catch my breath as I floated on cloud 9. For the second time today, I had taken an awesome ride. But this one, the one where Josh made love to my body like he craved it all of his life, was definitely a rival to indoor skydiving.

“I see you have a little kink underneath that professional demeanor,” I almost whispered. I was laying on his chest, his hands lightly caressing my arm.

“Just wanted to make sure you were satisfied. And I’ll go to great lengths to make sure you are.”

And that he did. For twenty years, I’d only had sex with David. While it wasn’t terrible, I was used to it. It wasn’t until I started sleeping with other men that I discovered David could stand to learn a thing or two. But Josh, the youngest man I’ve dated, showed me all kinds of things. Things I didn’t know I liked or needed. I wondered how many more times I could get him to do those things to me.

“Well rest assured, you accomplished just that.” I sat up and kissed him deeply. Even though he tapped out, he laid me down and his kisses traveled down my body giving me more orgasms than I could count.

******

“Hey baby, what you got going on tonight?” Josh asked Friday night. In the short time we’d been talking, we’ve developed a bit of a routine. He has to be at school before I’ve gotten coffee in me so we usually send quick texts in the morning and talked when I get off.

I was on my way home from work, tired from a long week and looking forward to a relaxing weekend. “Hey there Mister. Nothing tonight. I’m very tired.”

“Yes, you’ve had a very long week. Listen,” he began and I knew he was about to suggest going somewhere and as much as I loved being with him, I was too tired to get out tonight. “How about I get some Wood’s Swinging Wings, a bottle of Red Electra and we make it a Netflix night?”

I smiled at how thoughtful Josh was. “That sounds perfect!”

“Cool. Seven good?”

“Yes that will be great. I have to go to Wal-Mart so I definitely be home by then.” We said our goodbyes and I smiled again at his thoughtfulness. I really hated to compare Josh to David but David would have never thought to do something like this. But I didn’t have to worry about what David didn’t do anymore.

As if my thoughts conjured him up, my phone rang and his name flashed across my screen. “Hey David. What’s up?”

“Hey Mel. How are you?”

“I’m fine and you?”

He sighed heavily as if there was a lot on his mind but I was already tired and I didn’t want to take on his issues so I chose not to address that. “I’m ok. I’m calling to invite you to mama’s birthday party next month. She insists that you come.”

“Of course I’ll come! I know her birthday is always a big deal!” Just hearing that Mattie was still having birthday celebrations warmed my heart. Ten years ago, she was on her death bed. The doctors gave up on her cancer and gave her six months to live. Since outliving the doctor’s prediction, Mattie found a new reason to celebrate her birthday. It was always something I looked forward to.

“Well she’s doing it big this year. The party will be the Rees Park building and she’s asking everyone to wear black. “

“How awesome! I can’t wait!” Whether David wanted me there or not, he wasn’t going to tell his mama no. He was the youngest of her six children and a mama’s boy to the core. Their daddy instilled in them the utmost respect for their mama and David did the same to our boys. Much like David and his siblings, my crew treated me like the queen of the castle.

“Cool. She’ll be excited to know you’re coming.”

David had a lingering pause and again, I didn’t want to be sucked into whatever was eating him up so I told him I needed to go. I think sometimes David forgot we weren’t married anymore.

I went in Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, namely deodorant for Daylon. I’ve forgotten to get him some for almost three weeks and he was almost at the point where he was going to have to use mine. I got the things I needed plus a lot that I didn’t and headed home to get ready for Josh to come over.

I took a shower, changed into some lounging clothes and got out two wine glasses. Just as I sat on the sofa, my doorbell rang. Josh greeted me with a kiss. When he slipped his tongue in my mouth, I didn’t think we would make it to the movie.

“Hey beautiful. I missed you,” he informed me.

“I missed you, too,” I admitted. I was pretty sure my sons were running interference on me so I was glad to finally get some time with Josh. Daylon stopped going to his dad’s on the weekends and even though I could go to Josh’s place, I didn’t want to be gone all night and have him ask me a million questions about where I’ve been. Josh said he understood, but he really didn’t.

“Your sons are older, Mel. I’m sure they can understand their mother dating,” he’d told me when I had to cancel a date cause Daylon was at home.

“Maybe but this is new for them. Most of their life it’s been me and their dad. This is a big adjustment,” I explained. He said he got it but that didn’t stop him from asking to see me when he knew Daylon was going to be here. We had a few disagreements about it.

We settled on the couch with our wings and wine. He picked up my remote and searched Netflix for something to watch. He settled on Bright starring Will Smith. As the movie began, I smiled to myself at Josh’s take charge attitude. He showed authority in something as simple as getting wings and picking a movie. David would have called me three times asking me what kind of wings I wanted and he would have let me pick the movie. It was refreshing to not have to make decisions all the time.

We were ten minutes into the movie when Josh’s hands started to wander. “Baby, there will be plenty of time for that, let’s watch the movie,” I laughed moving his hand from my thigh.

“But you’ve been holding out on me. You know I need to taste you on the regular,” he whispered while kissing my ear.

I moaned softly as his hands moved up my thing and found the warmth between my thighs. I started to give him full access to me but thought better. I missed him but I wasn’t ready for him right now. I had plans for Josh tonight.

“Hold up, baby. I have to go to the bathroom,” I lied.

He laughed at me and reluctantly moved his hand. “Ok Mel. But you know I don’t give up easy.”

“Be patient young man and you just might get a reward,” I winked as I got up from the sofa. Josh swatted at my ass and I laughed as I went to my bathroom.

I got to my room and decided to go ahead and use the bathroom since I was in here. As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was loving the serenity on my face. It’s amazing how living your best life can make you feel more confident and beautiful. David used to compliment me all the time, even when I felt hideous. Even with his ability to make me feel beautiful, the last 5-6 years of my marriage drained me. This selfish phase I’m in was giving me life, though.

I emerged from the bathroom and heard voices coming from the living room. I figured Josh got on the phone since I was taking so long. But when I walked in the living room, I saw my sons glaring at Josh. When they saw me, their anger was now cast in my direction.

“Ma, what’s up?” Darius asked me.

“What are ya’ll doing here?” I asked ignoring my son’s question.

“Someone hit a transformer. Dad’s power is out so we came here. He went to grandma’s,” Darius explained. “Who is this?”

I ignored my son’s inquisition and asked Josh to leave.

Josh’s face scrunched as if he didn’t hear me. “Huh? You want me to go? Why?”

“You heard her,” Daylon quipped.

“Hey, boy. I don’t need you to cosign. I got this,” I warned my baby boy.

Darius and Daylon stared at Josh with their arms folded. They were waiting for him to put his shoes on and leave. “Josh, I’ll call you later but for now, you need to go.”

“You want me to go?” Josh asked perplexed. “Why do I need to go? I’ve met them now.”

“Josh, please.” His refusal to let me handle my boys showed me that he was unaccustomed to things not going his way. “I promise I will call you later.”

When Josh saw I was for real, he huffed and started putting on his shoes. Daylon snickered and I hit him on his arm. Josh looked at me once more, hoping I would change my mind. When he saw no sign of me asking him to stay, he stormed out of my house, making sure he slammed my door.

And just like that, the honey moon was over.

“So you don’t know where you’re going? How are you supposed to pack?” Tisha asked looking over everything I had laid out on my bed. She had a glass of Red Electra in her hand, her second of the night. By the time she got halfway through this glass, she wouldn’t be any help to me.

“Nope. All he said was pack for comfort,” I responded, completely stumped. While I loved Josh’s spontaneity, I was having difficulty packing for this weekend.

Last week Joshua asked what my plans were for the next weekend. When I told him I had nothing planned but relaxing, he invited me to Atlanta. For what, I don’t know. I was sure it would be something fun and exciting because that’s the type of man Josh was.

Since our first date almost a month ago, things have been nothing but non-stop surprises from him. Our first date set the tone. We went to dinner at Cheddar’s in Albany and when we both admitted we were competitive, we ended up at Fun Park bowling. Our dates since then have been at Fun Park for miniature golf, to Rigby’s in Warner Robins to ride go karts and First Friday downtown. He wasn’t a dinner and a movie kind of guy and that was fine by me. I never knew where I was going when Josh wanted to take me out. So I shouldn’t be surprised by this trip this weekend.

“Are you going to finally give this man some this weekend, Mel?” Tisha asked. She downed the rest of her second glass and I knew things were about to get all the way live. She would probably be staying here tonight and I didn’t mind because Daylon was with David.

“I wasn’t planning on it,” I responded causing her to raise her eyebrow. We both knew I was probably lying. She handed me the red and black teddy on my bed and I snatched it out her hand and threw it next to my bag. “He’s a great guy and all but sex will only complicate that.”

“You don’t want to be boo’d up? I mean, you haven’t been seeing anyone else since you started playing weekend warrior with him,” Tisha observed.

“I know but, I’m not tying to get into something serious with him.”

Tisha and I have had this conversation since our first date. Josh and I talked at length and he told me he had a purpose in dating and that purpose was to find a woman he could grow with. I tried to shut that down because after being married for twenty years, a relationship was the last thing on my mind. But I couldn’t deny that spending time with Josh was great.

“Hey mama, where you going?” Daylon said standing in my doorway causing me and Tisha to scream. I hadn’t even heard him come in the house.

“Jesus, Daylon you scared the crap out of me! What are you doing here?” I asked trying to slow my beating heart down. I had to sit on the bed to catch my breath.

“My bad, mama. I forgot my controller to my game. Hey Ms. Tisha,” Daylon said. He asked me again where I was going.

“Why, Daylon? Do I question you about where you’re going?”

“Yes, you do. All the time,” my son responded. His face, the exactly replica of his daddy, registered frustration.

When David and I divorced, our sons didn’t seem too effected by it. They were older and since David was still in town, it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been. It wasn’t until I started going on dates that my boys started to have a problem and became super protective of me. I tried to do it the weekends he wasn’t here, but Daylon did see me going out occasionally. Darius lived with his dad because as a student at Georgia Southwestern, his dad’s apartment in Troy Hill was closer to campus than our house on Mayo Street. A mama’s boy at heart, Darius either came by or called every day. It took me a minute to get used to not sharing a house with three men but some days, I did get lonely.

“Well I’m supposed to. I’m your mama. It’s my job to know where you are,” I reasoned.

“And I’m the man of our house so I think I should know where you are going,” my son announced.

Tisha almost choked on her wine and my eyes got low. “Daylon James Watkins, I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I suggest you rethink your life right now.”

My son looked down, half out of embarrassment, half out of stopping himself from getting punched in the throat. He grumbled sorry and walked towards the front door.

“Mel, why didn’t you just lie to him and tell him you’re going out of town with me?” Tisha asked.

“Cause, I’m too old to lie. It’s not his business where I’m going or who I’m going with,” I reasoned.

“Yeah but…”

“But what?”

“If it will make him feel better, why not just lie to him?”

“Tisha,” I scoffed. “I don’t owe him any explanations. I do respect my boy’s feelings and go out when they aren’t here but I’m not going to lie just to make him feel better. I don’t think that’s necessary. Besides, I’m the adult and he’s the child.”

“Ok, ok, chill out girl. You need to finish packing and I need to go home,” Tisha informed me looking for her keys.

“Girl, I know you don’t think you’re about to drive home. Either I will take you or you will stay here.”

Tisha rolled her eyes at me. “I’ll stay here cause you need my help with this weekend.” She came over to where I was and put the lingerie in the bag. “You’re going to need this.”

******

Saturday afternoon, Josh and I checked into Sheraton Suites on Cobb Parkway in Atlanta. He changed into jeans and tennis shoes so I figured wherever we were going was laid back. Josh really didn’t have it in him to dress down. I would have been content to chill in this room and take advantage of the pools while enjoying drinks at Martini’s bar. But I changed out of my dress and threw on jeans and a PINK shirt.

“So you’re really not going to tell me where we are going? I had such a hard time packing without knowing what we were doing,” I stated as we were leaving the hotel.

“You’ll see in about two minutes,” he said smiling. He really loved keeping me in suspense.

As promised, we arrived in a few minutes. My mouth dropped when he pulled into iFly. “Josh! Are you serious!”

“Yes ma’am! It can never be said I don’t listen.”

He was definitely a good listener. On maybe our second or third date, I mentioned wanting to do something adventurous like skydiving or scuba diving. And here he was, getting me off the couch and into the air. I smiled broadly before leaning over to kiss him.

“Thank you, Josh. Really. This is…this is probably the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me,” I admitted.

“Not a problem, Mel. I just want to make you happy.”

I’m sure he meant something deeper but for now, I was just going to make it apply to the moment.

“Are you ready?” He asked.

“Let’s do this!”

******

A few hours later, Josh and I were sipping on a glass of wine while enjoying the indoor pool. I was still reeling from the exhilaration of skydiving.

“So how close are you to wanting to do the real thing?” he asked. He was reveling in my excitement.

“I’m going to plan it. Maybe for my birthday. That was such a rush!”

“Have you always been this adventurous?” Josh asked while refiling my wine glass.

“Nope,” I replied while taking a sip of the sweet wine. “All of my life was simple, boring. I was a wife and a mother. There was no adventure in that. My ex-husband and I just…we existed but never had much fun. Or excitement. I’ve really started to live my life and I’m loving every second of it.”

“So no trips, no cruises, no exotic beach vacations?”

“David wasn’t that kind of guy. He was safe, predictable. But he never knew to try different things because we were so stuck in the status quo. I was 18 when we got married and I wasn’t the same woman he married. He was the same man but I was different. My needs changed and he couldn’t.”

“That’s why it ended?”

Two years after my marriage ended, it still wasn’t that easy to refer to us in the past tense. I guess a part of me still loved him but I felt like it was over. I have to admit that I miss him sometimes but that just because I was with him so long. I gave Josh the rundown of the last few years of my marriage and by the nodding of his head, I think he understood why it wasn’t salvageable.

“Enough about me…why are you single?” I asked. He spent a lot of time asking about me but rarely talked about himself.

Now it was his turn to exhale. “I just haven’t found her yet. I’ve dated some great women before but they were missing something. My granddaddy told me that once I found her, I’d know it because I’d go all out for her.”

He looked at me and while I knew it was obvious what he meant, I couldn’t continue to let his comments slide. “Look, Josh, I think you’re a great guy and I have a lot of fun with you but…I’m just not ready to date seriously. I was married for twenty years, divorced for two. I can’t think about getting into another serious relationship right now.”

“I hear you, Mel,” Josh said completely undeterred by my spill. “I’m a patient man.”

I chuckled at him but I needed him to understand I meant what I said. “You can be patient Josh. But I’m not changing my mind.”

He laughed and then asked me what I wanted to do for the rest of the weekend. “Oh you don’t have any more plans?”

“Nope. Today was the pinnacle of my spontaneity. I’m tapped out now,” he joked. “Any ideas?”

“Maybe one or two,” I winked. I stood and started gathering my things to head to the room.

“Where are you going?” he asked perplexed.

“Well, Josh I’m adventurous but not this much,” I winked. “I need to thank you properly for today.”

An hour later, Josh and I were basking in the glow of a marathon sex romp. I was trying to catch my breath as I floated on cloud 9. For the second time today, I had taken an awesome ride. But this one, the one where Josh made love to my body like he craved it all of his life, was definitely a rival to indoor skydiving.

“I see you have a little kink underneath that professional demeanor,” I almost whispered. I was laying on his chest, his hands lightly caressing my arm.

“Just wanted to make sure you were satisfied. And I’ll go to great lengths to make sure you are.”

And that he did. For twenty years, I’d only had sex with David. While it wasn’t terrible, I was used to it. It wasn’t until I started sleeping with other men that I discovered David could stand to learn a thing or two. But Josh, the youngest man I’ve dated, showed me all kinds of things. Things I didn’t know I liked or needed. I wondered how many more times I could get him to do those things to me.

“Well rest assured, you accomplished just that.” I sat up and kissed him deeply. Even though he tapped out, he laid me down and his kisses traveled down my body giving me more orgasms than I could count.

******

“Hey baby, what you got going on tonight?” Josh asked Friday night. In the short time we’d been talking, we’ve developed a bit of a routine. He has to be at school before I’ve gotten coffee in me so we usually send quick texts in the morning and talked when I get off.

I was on my way home from work, tired from a long week and looking forward to a relaxing weekend. “Hey there Mister. Nothing tonight. I’m very tired.”

“Yes, you’ve had a very long week. Listen,” he began and I knew he was about to suggest going somewhere and as much as I loved being with him, I was too tired to get out tonight. “How about I get some Wood’s Swinging Wings, a bottle of Red Electra and we make it a Netflix night?”

I smiled at how thoughtful Josh was. “That sounds perfect!”

“Cool. Seven good?”

“Yes that will be great. I have to go to Wal-Mart so I definitely be home by then.” We said our goodbyes and I smiled again at his thoughtfulness. I really hated to compare Josh to David but David would have never thought to do something like this. But I didn’t have to worry about what David didn’t do anymore.

As if my thoughts conjured him up, my phone rang and his name flashed across my screen. “Hey David. What’s up?”

“Hey Mel. How are you?”

“I’m fine and you?”

He sighed heavily as if there was a lot on his mind but I was already tired and I didn’t want to take on his issues so I chose not to address that. “I’m ok. I’m calling to invite you to mama’s birthday party next month. She insists that you come.”

“Of course I’ll come! I know her birthday is always a big deal!” Just hearing that Mattie was still having birthday celebrations warmed my heart. Ten years ago, she was on her death bed. The doctors gave up on her cancer and gave her six months to live. Since outliving the doctor’s prediction, Mattie found a new reason to celebrate her birthday. It was always something I looked forward to.

“Well she’s doing it big this year. The party will be the Rees Park building and she’s asking everyone to wear black. “

“How awesome! I can’t wait!” Whether David wanted me there or not, he wasn’t going to tell his mama no. He was the youngest of her six children and a mama’s boy to the core. Their daddy instilled in them the utmost respect for their mama and David did the same to our boys. Much like David and his siblings, my crew treated me like the queen of the castle.

“Cool. She’ll be excited to know you’re coming.”

David had a lingering pause and again, I didn’t want to be sucked into whatever was eating him up so I told him I needed to go. I think sometimes David forgot we weren’t married anymore.

I went in Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, namely deodorant for Daylon. I’ve forgotten to get him some for almost three weeks and he was almost at the point where he was going to have to use mine. I got the things I needed plus a lot that I didn’t and headed home to get ready for Josh to come over.

I took a shower, changed into some lounging clothes and got out two wine glasses. Just as I sat on the sofa, my doorbell rang. Josh greeted me with a kiss. When he slipped his tongue in my mouth, I didn’t think we would make it to the movie.

“Hey beautiful. I missed you,” he informed me.

“I missed you, too,” I admitted. I was pretty sure my sons were running interference on me so I was glad to finally get some time with Josh. Daylon stopped going to his dad’s on the weekends and even though I could go to Josh’s place, I didn’t want to be gone all night and have him ask me a million questions about where I’ve been. Josh said he understood, but he really didn’t.

“Your sons are older, Mel. I’m sure they can understand their mother dating,” he’d told me when I had to cancel a date cause Daylon was at home.

“Maybe but this is new for them. Most of their life it’s been me and their dad. This is a big adjustment,” I explained. He said he got it but that didn’t stop him from asking to see me when he knew Daylon was going to be here. We had a few disagreements about it.

We settled on the couch with our wings and wine. He picked up my remote and searched Netflix for something to watch. He settled on Bright starring Will Smith. As the movie began, I smiled to myself at Josh’s take charge attitude. He showed authority in something as simple as getting wings and picking a movie. David would have called me three times asking me what kind of wings I wanted and he would have let me pick the movie. It was refreshing to not have to make decisions all the time.

We were ten minutes into the movie when Josh’s hands started to wander. “Baby, there will be plenty of time for that, let’s watch the movie,” I laughed moving his hand from my thigh.

“But you’ve been holding out on me. You know I need to taste you on the regular,” he whispered while kissing my ear.

I moaned softly as his hands moved up my thing and found the warmth between my thighs. I started to give him full access to me but thought better. I missed him but I wasn’t ready for him right now. I had plans for Josh tonight.

“Hold up, baby. I have to go to the bathroom,” I lied.

He laughed at me and reluctantly moved his hand. “Ok Mel. But you know I don’t give up easy.”

“Be patient young man and you just might get a reward,” I winked as I got up from the sofa. Josh swatted at my ass and I laughed as I went to my bathroom.

I got to my room and decided to go ahead and use the bathroom since I was in here. As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was loving the serenity on my face. It’s amazing how living your best life can make you feel more confident and beautiful. David used to compliment me all the time, even when I felt hideous. Even with his ability to make me feel beautiful, the last 5-6 years of my marriage drained me. This selfish phase I’m in was giving me life, though.

I emerged from the bathroom and heard voices coming from the living room. I figured Josh got on the phone since I was taking so long. But when I walked in the living room, I saw my sons glaring at Josh. When they saw me, their anger was now cast in my direction.

“Ma, what’s up?” Darius asked me.

“What are ya’ll doing here?” I asked ignoring my son’s question.

“Someone hit a transformer. Dad’s power is out so we came here. He went to grandma’s,” Darius explained. “Who is this?”

I ignored my son’s inquisition and asked Josh to leave.

Josh’s face scrunched as if he didn’t hear me. “Huh? You want me to go? Why?”

“You heard her,” Daylon quipped.

“Hey, boy. I don’t need you to cosign. I got this,” I warned my baby boy.

Darius and Daylon stared at Josh with their arms folded. They were waiting for him to put his shoes on and leave. “Josh, I’ll call you later but for now, you need to go.”

“You want me to go?” Josh asked perplexed. “Why do I need to go? I’ve met them now.”

“Josh, please.” His refusal to let me handle my boys showed me that he was unaccustomed to things not going his way. “I promise I will call you later.”

When Josh saw I was for real, he huffed and started putting on his shoes. Daylon snickered and I hit him on his arm. Josh looked at me once more, hoping I would change my mind. When he saw no sign of me asking him to stay, he stormed out of my house, making sure he slammed my door.

And just like that, the honey moon was over.

Part III

“So you’re with that guy? He’s your new boyfriend?” Darius asked me.

“No, I don’t have a boyfriend. We’re just friends,” I answered. I sat down on the sofa and sipped my glass of wine. I know I talked cash money to Tisha about me being the adult and Darius and Daylon being the kids but I needed them to be assured I wasn’t moving on without letting them know.

“Why did he say he was glad to finally meet us? How long has this been going on?” Daylon asked. He was clearly upset and I got why but I needed him to calm down.

“Boys look. Your daddy and I were married for a very long time. Things changed and I get that ya’ll aren’t accustomed to seeing either of us with anyone new. And I do my best to make sure you don’t see that. But I need you to understand that just because I’m divorced, I’m not going to sit home and twiddle my thumbs. Rest assured if I ever start dating anyone exclusively, you guys will be the first to know.”

Darius’ face softened and I think he understood but Daylon was still sulking. “Daylon, do I meet all your girlfriends?”

“Mama, that’s different!”

“How? You told me you don’t introduce me to every girl that calls you until you think it’s serious,” I reminded him.

When he didn’t have a comeback, he told me he was going to his room. I smiled at his defeat and maybe I shouldn’t gloat but I needed my son to understand I wasn’t 100 years old. They didn’t want to accept I was still able bodied and able to date.

“He’ll be ok, mama. Ol boy just caught us off guard,” Darius told me.

“I know he will. Will you be ok?” I asked my son.

“Yes ma’am. It won’t be easy to see you with someone else but so long as you’re happy, I’m good.”

I smiled because at least one of my sons was ok with me dating. Even though I had no intentions of being serious with anyone. From the outside, it seemed like Josh and I were exclusive. I wasn’t talking to anyone else. I wasn’t sleeping with anyone else. And while I enjoyed spending time with Josh, I had to constantly remind him that we were not together.

“Thank you, baby. You want to watch this movie with me since you guys interrupted my date?”

“Oh and for the record, daddy isn’t seeing anyone,” Darius smirked and plopped down on the sofa in the spot Josh occupied a few minutes earlier. I wasn’t sure why my son told me that but I just brushed it off and picked up my wine glass.

About thirty minutes later Daylon came in the living room to watch the movie with us. It’s been a minute since I’ve done something like this with my boys and I knew I needed to do it more often. Especially with Daylon aspiring to go away to college. Back when David was out on the road, me and my boys spent a lot of time together. I didn’t smother them but it was me that had to pick them up from school, care for them when they were sick, go to their football and basketball games. As they got older and could drive, we spent less time together. Sitting on the sofa watching a movie with my boys reminded me of the days when they still wanted to be around me.

My boys spent the weekend with me. I wanted to say it was because they really wanted to be with their mama but I knew it was because they didn’t want me to be with Josh. He called and texted but we hadn’t had the chance to have a conversation. Darius, Daylon and I went to the mall in Albany to do a little shopping and eat. Then Tisha came over and we played spades. On Sunday, we got up and went to church at Friendship and got a good word. Then I went home to cook my babies fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread. The itis got us and we took naps. A few times, I thought about the missing part of our family and I really didn’t understand why. Just habit I guess. But this was one of the best and most relaxing weekends and I didn’t want it to end.

Monday rolled around and I walked into work in a good mood. Tisha assumed it was because Josh came through and beat it up but I assured her it was because my boys spent an entire weekend with me. Work was uneventful and as soon as five hit, I was out the door. I thought about what I wanted to eat because even though I cooked a good meal yesterday, Darius and Daylon left me virtually no leftovers. I had no idea where they put all this food they consumed.

When I got close to my car, I saw Josh standing there. He wasn’t smiling but he didn’t look upset either. He looked…determined.

“Hey Josh,” I exclaimed excitedly. “What are you doing here?”

“If I want to see you, I had to make it happen. Since you haven’t had time to talk to me.”

I cocked my head to the side as a scowl crept on my face. “Are you seriously still tripping about my boys coming home?”

“Mel,” he began exasperated. “I met them. Everything was cool. Or at least it would have been once we got to talk. I don’t see what the big deal is. If we are going to make something of this then-“

“Let me stop you right there,” I said throwing my hand up. “I have told you repeatedly I am not looking for a relationship. Which means you don’t have to get to know my kids. You don’t have kids and you’ve never been divorced so you don’t know what it’s like. We are just friends, Josh and it will never be more than that. I need you to respect what I say when I tell you that.”

Instead of responding, Josh covered the space between us and his mouth came crashing into mine. His kiss was so aggressive, so rushed and yet so passionate. I could feel myself melting into him. When he pulled away, I moaned a little, missing the way he kissed me.

“I hear you, Mel. But friends don’t do things like that. You want more, but you’re scared to let yourself fall. Rest assured, I’m here to catch you baby.”

He didn’t give me a chance to rebuff him because he kissed me again. I thought I was gonna have to give it up right here at this parking lot until Josh told me to come to his house so he could show me he missed me. I wanted to decline and take my ass home but Josh turned me on so much that I was almost putty in his hands.

Two hours later, I was basking in sexual satisfaction while sitting at Josh’s dining room table in one of his Morehouse t-shirts eating steak, loaded baked potato and a spinach salad. Josh may have been young and a bachelor but the man could cook. After dinner, Josh fixed us bowls of ice cream with chocolate syrup. Somehow, the chocolate syrup ended up all over my body and Josh took his time to lick it off.

Just as I was coming down from my high, Josh said, “I just want you to be mine, Mel. Maybe I’m being too pushy but you’re the woman I’ve been waiting for my entire life. You are everything I need in a woman. I don’t want you to get away.”

I started to protest but he put his finger to my lips. “I know what you’re going to say but just know I am not giving up on you. I’ll wait for as long as it takes, but you will be my woman. Mark my words.”

His assurance should have turned me off and upset me. But for some reason, I began to consider what he said. I let him kiss me deeply and no matter how much I tried to deny it, my body responded to him.

The next day, I was in a stupor at work. I was confused as hell by Josh. Tisha noticed I was quiet and asked what was wrong. I gave her the rundown of Josh last night and she shook her head.

“Tisha, I just don’t know what to do. I mean he’s cool and all but…I don’t want a boyfriend. I just got rid of my husband. I just wanna chill.”

“Mel, are you serious? Are you seriously going to keep playing with that man?”

“Playing with him? What do you mean?”

Tisha squinted her eyes. “You’re leading him on. If you don’t want to be with him like that, stop letting him fu-screw you.” For a second she forgot she was at work.

I was so glad she caught herself because our conversation was already inappropriate. “Tisha, I can admit, I like spending time with him but…it’s just that…”

“What? You have no valid reason for what you’re doing and I have to tell you that you are in the wrong. If you don’t want anything serious with him, stop doing all this couple shi-stuff.”

I let her words roll around in my head for a second and she was right. As I realized what I’d been doing since I met him, I zoned out for a second. Josh wasn’t listening to me say I don’t want anything serious; he was working off my actions. We talked. We spent time together. I let him dominate me in the bedroom. To him, I was giving him access to my heart, no matter how much I told him I didn’t want him there.

Sensing I needed to process what was going on in my life right now, Tisha left me alone. What was it that I felt for Josh? I think about him all the time. I think he’s incredibly sexy. He’s funny. He’s kind. He’s thoughtful. His sex was amazing. He had his head on straight which seemed to be rare for men today. At 33 years old, he was an assistant principal and being groomed to take over either the middle school or north campus. He had no kids and he loved his mama. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he had more good qualities than bad. Any woman in her right mind would snatch him up quick. And the only woman that he had in his sights was me.

So why was I avoiding him? Why was I running from him? David and I have been divorced for two years and I was free to love again, right? Yes, I was free but was that really what I wanted? When David and I were married, it was great to be with someone. To have someone love me. To have someone to take care of. To have someone need me. Then it all went to shit. I didn’t want that to happen again.

Getting divorced was my choice, my decision, my preference, but it wasn’t easy to accept that my marriage was over. I gave him twenty years of my life and other than my boys, what did I have to show for it? Divorce papers? An empty bed most nights? Dates with random guys? Yes, I was having fun or was I? Was I really living my best life?

I was so into my thoughts I barely noticed the delivery guy walking towards my desk. My eyes went wide as he set the beautiful floral arrangement on my desk. Gorgeous pink and white calla lilies in a purple vase took my breath away. It was so ironic that I was just thinking about Josh and then he sends me these flowers. I wondered how he knew calla lilies were my favorite. I pulled the card and immediately became confused.

Melony,

Over twenty years ago today, I kissed you for the first time. I know a lot time has passed but I still remember that day. It changed my life. I knew that day I would marry you. Never imagined that I would lose you, too. Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you today.

David

I read the card at least five times. And each time I was even more confused. I never thought I would forget this date. March 21. I used to remind David of this date all the time and until today, I hadn’t thought about it for a long, long time. How did he remember? And more importantly, why did he remember?

Tisha’s nosey ass came sauntering over to my desk and picked up my card without bothering to ask me anything.

“Oh my dear God,” she exclaimed. “Mel…how? Why? Oh my God! What does this mean?”

I stared at her because I needed these answers, too. I picked up my cell phone and walked outside to call David. As if he was expecting my call, he answered on the first ring.

“Hey, Mel. What’s up?”

He was so nonchalant as if he just didn’t blow my damn mind. “That’s what I want to know, David.”

“I see you got the flowers.”

“I did. Why did you send them? And how did you remember? And why?”

David laughed at me. “We may be divorced but that doesn’t mean I was able to turn my feelings off. I know you’re enjoying your new life but I just wanted to do something nice for you. That’s all.”

I was quiet on the phone as I tried to understand what was going on. “Thank you, David. The flowers are beautiful.”

“You’re welcome. I have a question for you,” David said.

“I’m sure I have the answer.”

“Would you like to go to dinner tonight?”

My silence indicated that I did not have the answer. Why was he asking me this?

“It’s not a date, Mel. Well, I guess it would be but it would be more like two old friends having dinner.”

“David, I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” I finally said. Crazy thing is, I don’t know why it wasn’t a good idea.

“That’s cool. I knew it was a long shot but I had to take the chance,” he laughed. I could tell that he was hopeful when he asked and I killed his dreams just like that. I felt crappy but I shouldn’t feel bad for turning down a date with my ex-husband. Right?

“David, I’m sorry, but-“

“Don’t apologize,” he interrupted. “Like I said, I just wanted to do something nice for you. Dinner would have been an extra treat. I’ll talk to you later.”

He hung up and I was left standing outside trying to figure out what the hell was going on in my life right now. I went back in the building and Tisha was there waiting with a million questions.

“He asked me to dinner,” I said. Even saying it out loud sounded strange.

“And you said what?” Tisha asked cautiously.

“I said no, of course.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“Well weren’t you all excited about having the freedom to date and all that? Why not go out with him? You go out with everyone else.”

“Tisha, shut up!”

“I’m just saying. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

“You have feelings for Josh.”

I refused to answer her and started looking through the paperwork on my desk. Tisha laughed and told me she had her answer.

******

Since David sent me flowers and asked me to dinner, he’s been in communication with me more. He hasn’t asked me out again but he’s been calling and texting me pretty regularly and most days it felt like old times. I continuously asked him what all this meant and he insisted he was just being friendly. And maybe he was but that didn’t stop me from being cautious and wondering what he really wanted from me.

And then there was Josh. I tried to cut out some of the stuff I was doing with him but he wasn’t having that. The more time I spent with him, the more I couldn’t deny I had feelings for him. Even though David was talking to me more often, Josh was making his mark on my heart.

I woke up Saturday morning dreading having so much to do. I didn’t get to bed at a decent time because I spent most of the night arguing with Josh about why I was going to Mattie’s birthday party. He couldn’t understand why I was going since David and I were divorced. I explained that divorce papers don’t erase the relationship I had with my mother-in-law and the rest of David’s family. He pouted even more when I turned down his invitation to come. This man really does not like to hear the word no.

I finally peeled myself out of bed and took my shower. I had to go get my hair, toes and eyebrows done. I also had to make sure Daylon got up to get a haircut. After my shower, I got dressed and told Daylon to get a move on so he wasn’t at the barbershop all day. I headed over to my friend Nikki’s house so she could slay my head. I didn’t wear weave on the regular but I’d seen her do some really cute bobs and I wanted to try something new. I was also getting color for the first time and I was really excited about that.

When Nikki finished my hair, I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror. This honey blonde bob made me feel flirty. Fun. Sexy. I couldn’t wait to get all dressed up tonight.

I walked into Mattie’s party with a fierceness I didn’t know I possessed. Yes I was out here living my best life but I never really dressed the part. Because I was a mother of boys, the way I dressed had to be appropriate. Teenage sons had teenage friends and the last thing I wanted was my son’s having to tell their friends not to look at their mama.

Tonight I was still a mama but my black fitted flare dress and fuchsia heels made me feel fabulous. My hair and make-up were giving me life. I was ready to enjoy my night with the people I’ve called family for twenty years.

Mattie’s family and friends went all out. The black and white décor with hints of purple transformed the space completely. The food was delicious. The live band was rocking. Mattie’s smile outshined everything in the room. My sons looked handsome in their black slacks, black shirts and ties; Darius rocked a royal blue bow tie and Daylon, a red tie. But when I saw David, I had to do a double take.

David was never the type to dress up. His idea of dressing up was khaki’s and a Polo shirt. I think I remember him in a suit when his grandfather passed but that was forever ago. Tonight, my ex-husband had cleaned up oh so well.

His suit wasn’t rented; it looked tailored. It fit his frame better than anything I’ve ever seen on him. He gave up the battle of his receding hairline and went bald. The combination of his bald head and goatee gave him a distinguished look.

“Mr. Watkins, you look rather dapper tonight,” I commented.

“And you look absolutely amazing, the former Mrs. Watkins,” he replied.

I laughed at his joke and we continued small talk for a minute. David was pulled away by some of his family and I went to talk to one of his cousins that I was always close to. We were catching up and when David tapped me on my shoulder.

“Would you like to dance?”

His cousin raised her eyebrow at me and I really didn’t want to embarrass him so I agreed. Everyone in his family called me when they found out I filed for divorce and tried to get me to change my mind. To them, we had been together forever so we needed to stay together. I smirked at his cousin before following David to the dance floor. When I tried to keep my distance, he pulled me in closer.

“You must not remember this song?” he asked in my ear.

When I finally paid attention to the song, my heart started melting. Back in the day when radio dedications were one of the signs of unyielding love, David called into 96.3 and dedicated ‘Angel of Mine’ by Monica to me. It’s our song. Was our song.

I was no longer at my ex-husband’s mother’s birthday celebration. Right now, my husband and I were slow dancing in our living room after we put our son down for the night. Right now, my husband and I were celebrating our first, second, eighth year of marriage. Right now, my husband and I were suspended in the moment we were in love.

When the song ended, I was brought back to reality. I looked at David and smiled but I practically ran to the bathroom. I needed to get away from him because going down memory lane wasn’t my intention tonight. The tears threatening to fall from my eyes alarmed me. Why was I so emotional over a song? A few memories? The marriage was over long before we signed papers. At least that’s what I thought. But one song, one dance has me questioning if that was a mistake. For the rest of the party, I avoided David. I’m sure he wanted to talk but I just couldn’t.

Finally around 10:30, Mattie had all the fun she could stand and the party was winding down. Darius, Daylon and a few of their cousins dipped out about an hour ago heading to Albany to hang out. I already knew David was making sure his mama got home so I took advantage and tried to slip out of the party.

“Sneaking out, huh?” David said as soon as I unlocked my car door.

I jumped at the sound of his voice. “David! You scared me!”

“And you’ve been avoiding me,” he stated with a smirk.

“It was just a dance, David. That’s it,” I lied. I was talking to myself more than I was talking to him.

David came closer to me. He wasn’t touching me but just being close proximity to him like this was distracting. I couldn’t seem to think straight. “So you’re telling me that dance didn’t remind you of when I made you happy?”

“It did but…” my voice trailed off because I wasn’t sure how to address him. That dance sent me down memory lane. “That was a different time.”

“You’re right. It was. But it was great to reminisce,” David said stepping closer to me. I couldn’t back up because my back was against my car. “Ummm…I have to go. I have to-“

My words were cut off because David leaned down to kiss me. His kiss was soft, it started as him gently kissing my lips. Suddenly his tongue was in my mouth and his hands pulled my body into him. I involuntarily wrapped my hands around his neck as my tongue danced intimately with his. Maybe it’s been awhile but I don’t remember David’s kiss to be this…intense. My body was reacting to his kiss and his hands.

David broke our kiss and my eyes flew open wondering why he suddenly stopped. He was looking down at me and his eyes held a passion that was new, but simultaneously familiar.

“Come home with me,” David whispered.

“Ok,” I answered mindlessly. I don’t know why I agreed so quickly but right now in this moment, I wanted nothing more than to be with him. I started to get in my car but he lead me to his instead. I guess he didn’t want me to change my mind and make a run for it. During the short drive to his apartment, David’s hand rested on my thigh. Part of me wanted to ask him to take me back to my car so I could go home. The other part of me, wished we’d hurry up and get to his place. The latter was winning my mental debate.

We arrived at his apartment and he opened both my car door and his apartment door for me. I didn’t get a chance to take his bachelor pad because as soon as the door closed, David pushed me against the door and kissed me again. This time, David wasn’t as gentle as he was at the party. His hands cupped my face as he kissed me feverishly.

I needed to get out of these clothes and I pushed David away to remove my dress. I threw it in a pile on the floor and started to remove my bra but David moved my hands away. He leaned down and licked my nipple through my bra. My head rested against the door and my eyes rolled back into my head. He alternated between my nipples before finally removing my bra. He then caressed my hips and thighs before removing my panties. He followed them down on the ground and he was on his knees. David lifted my left leg and placed it on his shoulder. He started kissing between my legs and when his tongue flicked against my clit, I moaned.

“David…” I whispered as my hands rested on his bald head.

He didn’t answer me but hearing me moan his name seemed to energize him. He became voracious with his exploration of me. It’s been years since David tasted me but this was new; he seemed to be insatiable. Even when my body shook and released for him, he didn’t stop until he had to hold me up to keep me from falling.

He stood up and turned me around so that my breasts were pressed against his front door. He ran his hands up and down my back and I was so desperate to feel him inside of me that I started moving my hips in search of him.

“You sure you want this, Mel?” David’s throaty voice turned me on tremendously.

“Yes! Please David, please!”

He wasted no time in pushing into me. I moaned loudly as he filled me up. When David and I were married, he was always a gentle lover. He always took his time with me and made love to me. It was never bad and until I experienced other men, I didn’t know there was more to sex than this passionate experience.

But right now, David was pushing into me with intensity, making sure I felt every inch of him. My moans and the sound of our skin slapping against each other filled his apartment. There were no words. I couldn’t form them. David was leading me to ecstasy and I was content to follow him there. My orgasm snuck up on me and he had to wrap his hands around my waist to make sure he felt me gripping him as I gave him his reward. As my orgasm subsided, David began to pound me hard and deep. I didn’t want him to stop but I wanted to feel him release inside of me.

David’s movements became more frantic and finally, he gave me what I craved. “I love you, Mel.”

David’s admission should have alarmed me but instead, his release and his words sparked another orgasm in me. We somehow ended up on the floor, breathing hard but satisfied. “I mean it, Mel. I love you. I always have.”

“David…we are-“

“Divorced, I know.” He interrupted me. “But I want you back. I want our family back. I messed up, I know I did. I wasn’t the husband you needed. I wasn’t the father the boys needed. But if you give me the chance, I can be everything you need. I promise. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

******

“So you’re getting back with your husband?” Tisha asked me.

“No. I don’t know. I mean…I can’t, right?”

I was so damn confused. Since the night I slept with David, things have been good with us. I’ve avoided spending any time with him but Daylon did invite him over for Sunday dinner. Being like this, like a family again tugged at my heart strings but I just wasn’t sure if that meant I needed to get back with my ex-husband.

David and I did more talking than anything. I mean real conversations. Conversations we didn’t have before I threw in the towel. David asked me why I never told him what I needed; I didn’t have a good answer. After twenty years, I just assumed he knew. And now, I was plagued with the realization that I could have saved my marriage if we just would have taken the time to talk.

“Tisha, I have to call you back. I’m at Josh’s house,” I announced.

“Girl, what the hell? How you got two fine ass men after you and my ass can’t even get a date?” Tisha scoffed at me.

“If you’d stop being so damn picky, you could go on a date. Jeremiah was a nice guy! What was wrong with him?”

“He wasn’t tall enough. And I didn’t like how he chewed his food. And he looked like he only wore like a size 9 shoe.”

“And that right there is why you are single. Bye, Tisha. I’ll call you later.”

I pulled into Josh’s apartment complex and I saw a woman walk out of his house, get in her car and back up. I tried to look in her car but her windows were too tinted for me to get a good look at her. I got out of the car and Josh met me at the door.

“Umm…hey Mel. Look,” he stuttered. “Tonight isn’t good for me. I was about to call you and reschedule our date. Because-“ He was interrupted by a baby crying.

“Is that a baby?” I queried.

I didn’t wait for him to answer and I barged in his house to find an adorable little girl in a bouncer. “Who’s baby?”

For the first time since I met him, Josh was quiet. So I repeated my question, a little louder in case he didn’t hear me the first time.

“She’s mine, Mel. She’s my daughter.”

Part IV

“Shut the front door, Mel! SHUT UP!!” Tisha screeched at me. If we were on the phone, she would have burst my ear drums. I’m glad I came to her house. “A baby? A whole baby?”

“A whole, seven-month-old adorable little girl named Journey.”

“Well I’ll be damned!” Tisha downed the rest of her wine and got up to go to the kitchen. She returned with a bottle of vodka and cranberry juice. She knew wine wasn’t going to be enough to get through this. She made two drinks and handed me one. “What did you say? What did he say?”

I told Tisha everything that happened when Josh admitted the baby was his. How he said he didn’t mention it because he wasn’t sure she was his. How he was sorry he never told me. How he wanted me to stay and help him with the baby because this was his first time having her by himself. And how I turned around and left him to figure out how to take care of his daughter on his own.

“Not only did he not tell me there was a possibility he could be a father, he is also sadly mistaken if he thinks I’m gonna play step-mama to a baby. My baby is 18 and getting ready to graduate high school. A baby is not in my plans.”

“Is an ex-husband in your plans?” Tisha asked taking a sip of her vodka and cranberry.

And if all this with Josh wasn’t bad enough, there was David. He refused to leave me alone. But the strange thing about it was that I really didn’t want him to leave me alone. He was refreshing. He was different but somehow the same. Our conversations have been better, more intimate, more engaging, just more. But I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed the comfortable, familiar feeling he gave me or if this was opening the door to go backwards.

“Tisha, I don’t know. I’m just here right now. I can’t make any decisions.” I wanted to drink and forget about my life. “Let’s talk about you.”

“Honey, my life ain’t got nothing on yours. Let’s just watch TV.”

Tisha could be tactless and a mess at times but I was so grateful I could count on her right now. And in silence, my friend was there for me.

The next day, my mind wasn’t any less confused. I was actually tired of thinking about David and his admission and Josh and his magically appearing baby. This shit was draining me.

In the middle of the only thing I’ve been able to think about right now, my phone rang. Thankful it wasn’t David or Josh, I answered quickly for Daylon.

“Hey baby boy. What’s up?”

“Ma, I’m not a baby anymore!”

“Whatever Daylon. You will always be my baby.” I sang the familiar Mariah Carey tune and he groaned loudly. I laughed at his insistence that I stop singing.

“I made a decision about the school I want to go,” he finally said once I ended my mini concert.

I held my breath hoping he didn’t pick Georgia State. I wasn’t too keen on my baby being in Atlanta. I think the city had too many opportunities to get distracted. I was praying he picked Fort Valley because it was the closest. “What did you decide?”

“Savannah State.”

I congratulated him on making a decision and feigned excitement but inside I was lamenting how far Savannah was! Darius chose to go to school in Americus which suited me just fine. Now this one is trying to go halfway across Georgia. But like he said…he wasn’t a baby anymore. As if he could sense my uneasiness, he informed me his dad was thinking of moving to Savannah.

“What do you mean he’s thinking of moving to Savannah? For what?”

“He applied for a department head position at Lowe’s in Savannah. He said he’s going to take it now that I’m going there.”

I sat quietly on the phone trying to take this all in. On one hand, my son finally picking a college was joyous occasion. But hearing my ex-husband was moving was tripping me out. I did enjoy talking to David but as much as Josh’s daughter bothered me, I still thought about him, too. I haven’t been ignoring him but I missed him. Maybe David moving would be the best thing for me. One less piece to this puzzle could make my life easier. At least that’s how it worked in theory.

******

“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me,” Josh said as we sat down at Madea’s for Sunday dinner. I’d been avoiding him since I found out he had a baby.

“Well you wouldn’t exactly leave me alone about it.”

“I know,” Josh lamented. “I need you to know how sorry I am.”

I knew he was sorry. If not for the sound of his voice, by his disheveled look. Josh was always so confident and sure of himself. Now, he seemed to struggle with words. I don’t know if his unshaved face and wrinkled t-shirt were because he missed me or if he’s been stressed with his baby.

“Josh, listen. You don’t have to keep apologizing. Your true colors have been revealed.”

“It wasn’t like that, Mel. I told you I didn’t know for sure she was mine!”

“How the hell are you going to give me grief about not meeting my boys when you had a whole daughter out there that you never mentioned?”

He looked around nervously because we were in public and I was a little loud. “I know it sounds bad but I didn’t want to bring her up if she wasn’t mine. I didn’t want to give you a reason to-“

“A reason to make a decision based on all the facts? You wanted me to be with you sooooo bad but you were keeping secrets! Seriously Josh, how do you just spring a child on me? A baby at that!” I was getting upset all over again which is exactly the reason why I didn’t want to talk about this anymore.

Josh was silent because he didn’t have a leg to stand on. He knew he was wrong and it was over. “Mel, I can apologize a million times and that wouldn’t let you know how sorry I really am. I made a judgement call and it was the wrong one. If I had to do it over again, I would most definitely tell you. Everything. I knew it would come out eventually but when I started getting feelings for you, my judgment got cloudy. I meant what I said about you, Mel. You are the most amazing woman I ever met and I’ve waited my whole life to meet you. Please, please don’t give up on us.”

I put my fork down and stared at him. I wanted to remain angry at him and I had every right to be. But…something about the longing in his eyes and the pleading in his voice softened my heart. “Josh, you lied to me.”

“And I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”

He was saying all the right things and I was losing the battle of being angry. Part of my reason for wanting to forgive him was because David was moving to Savannah. Why this bothered me, I don’t know. It was probably because I had to hear it from my son and not from him. The other reason was…as much as I wanted to deny it, I had feelings for Josh. He was so different than any man I’ve ever met and I loved the way he treated me. Even though a baby is a big deal, people make mistakes. Right? Maybe I was being too hard on him and I needed to be more understanding. Besides…I missed this man. I think. Now that David was moving, I had no reason our flame was being rekindled. Maybe it was time that I gave Josh a chance. “Ok, Josh. I’ll forgive you. But…I need you to understand. I will not, under any circumstances, tolerate you lying to me again.”

Josh got up from his seat to kiss me. It was a soft, sensuous kiss that gave my body chills. “Thank you baby. Thank you. I promise you won’t have to worry about anything like this again. I’m going to make you the happiest woman in the world. So, it’s official then?”

I smiled but didn’t answer him; I just kissed him again. It didn’t matter we were in the middle of a restaurant full of church folks. I missed him and it showed.

“Mel?”

I opened my eyes, mid-kiss to find David staring at me and Josh. The look on his face was pure anger. As if he just caught his wife with another man.

“D-D-David! What are you doing here?” I stammered.

“The same thing you should be doing. Getting something to eat,” David spat.

Why I felt guilty right now, I don’t know. David wasn’t my husband anymore. Sure, we talked more but he was moving. Needing to say something, I introduced my ex-husband to my new man.

Josh extended his hand and David shook it. Never in my life have I seen David look so upset. I guess he had a right to be but…I wasn’t used to this.

“Mel, I need to talk to you right now. Alone. Outside,” David announced. He didn’t even wait for me to respond; he walked out of the restaurant.

I looked at Josh with pleading eyes and he gave me an ‘oh you better not’ look. I sighed deeply and got up from the booth. “Josh, I’ll be right back.”

“Melony! Are you serious? Your ex makes demands and you jump?”

“Josh, don’t start. This is a shock to him. Let me just smooth things over and I’ll be right back. It’ll be fine I promise.”

Josh sulked in his seat and I headed outside. David was standing by my car which ironically was in Josh’s eye sight from inside the restaurant.

“So this is why you wouldn’t spend any time with me? You have a boyfriend now? Were you with him when we slept together?” David fired off.

“Whoa, David calm down! I’ve been seeing him for a few months now and yes he is my boyfriend. It just became official today.”

“And you weren’t going to tell me. You were just going to keep using me?”

“Just like you haven’t told me you were moving to Savannah?”

David got quiet and I crossed my arms waiting for whatever grand reason he could have for not telling me. Instead of responding, he left me standing by my car and started walking towards his. Perplexed I followed him across the parking lot. “Oh so you’re just going to walk away in the middle of our conversation? The one you made me leave my boyfriend to have with you? Oh no, you better tell me something!”

David opened his car door but immediately closed it. When he turned around and looked at me, I saw the hurt in his eyes. My heart dropped down in my stomach. “The reason I didn’t tell you Melony was because I wanted to ask you to come with me. I thought things were going good with us and we had a real shot at getting back together. I wanted us to start over. To keep all the good things we had but to create something new. I told you I’d do anything for you and I meant that. Now I see it was all for nothing.”

I couldn’t say anything. I just stared at my ex husband and wondered where this man came from. He was never this vocal before but after we started talking more, he seemed different. Or maybe he was like this all along and I was too blind to notice it.

David opened his car door and got in. “Listen, Mel. I just want you to be happy. No matter who you are with.” The defeat in his voice was gut wrenching and out of nowhere, tears poured down my face.

He started his engine and backed out of the parking lot. I was stuck in this spot and unable to move. Move to Savannah with David? Play step mama to Josh’s baby? How was this my life right now?

******

“Mel, let’s go bowling tonight,” Josh said as I walked in the house.

“Sure, just let me take a quick shower and change,” I said while kissing him. He smiled at me and swatted me on my ass as I went to my bathroom to shower. Josh was reminding me of how David was so crazy in love with me when we first got married. He always found ways to touch me; being mannish as my grandma would say.

Since Daylon graduated and was a freshman at Savannah State, Josh was over here more and more. I had actually given him a key. With David in Savannah, Darius was between my house and his girlfriend. He didn’t come over here much because of Josh being here but when they did have to interact, Darius was cool. I was dreading when Daylon came home, but so far, my youngest was living it up in college; he hadn’t come home yet.

After my shower, I got dressed and we headed to Albany. We bowled a couple of games, betting for sexual favors. It made the game much more interesting. I think he let me win so he could do that thing I liked for him to do. Before heading home, we stopped at Sonic in Leesburg and got ice cream.

Sitting outside eating our ice cream, enjoying the simplicity of the moment. “You know,” Josh began, “I love when we go out and have fun but it’s moments like this that let me know how much I love you.”

I smiled at Josh and full heartedly agreed. Even though I couldn’t deny that I loved Josh, I couldn’t bring myself to say it and mean it. I always responded as he expected but I’d never say it first. Sitting here eating ice cream with Josh was good but my mind wandered to David. We used to have simple dates like this all the time, especially when the boys were younger. We’d drive to Sonic and get ice cream cones. Daylon would always report how good he was at school hoping his daddy would treat us on the weekend.

Back at my house, Josh and I didn’t even make it to the bedroom. He drove me to ecstasy expertly but...my mind wasn’t on him. He fell asleep holding me close to him. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. My mind was running a mile a minute but my thoughts weren’t on the man holding me; I was thinking about David.

Since David moved, he’s been on my mind heavy. I found myself wanting to call him but I couldn’t get over that look in his eyes he saw me and Josh at Madea’s. When Daylon moved into his dorm, David didn’t come over until he knew I was gone. I’ve text him a few times about the boys and he’ll respond but when I tried to apologize for hurting him, he ignored me.

What I couldn’t understand was why I was thinking about David. He wasn’t talking to me and I wasn’t sure if he would again. And Josh was doing everything right. We were talking, spending time together, and having really great sex. I was even happy about doing some shopping for Journey because I never had the chance to shop for a girl. I’ve attended family functions and met his parents. But...I felt something was missing.

I got out of the bed and went to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face and as I dried my face, I studied myself in my mirror. My eyes looked empty. I should be happy with a man like Josh but I was anything but. After David and I slept together, I remember feeling complete, fulfilled, beautiful. With Josh, it was just sex albeit really good sex. With David, there was emotions there. Emotions that haven’t disappeared since that night.

Maybe it was just the familiarity I had with David and fear of the unknown with Josh. Or maybe I was forcing my heart into Josh’s hands because divorce papers should have ended any feelings I had with David. Or maybe I never stopped loving David and it took me being with Josh to realize it. Whatever it was, was crushing me. I wasn’t supposed to be with Josh…my heart belonged to David. Suddenly, the need to go to David came over me. I had to see him. I needed to talk to him. I needed him.

Hastily, I ran to my bedroom and threw on some jogging pants and a t-shirt. I dug in my drawer for socks and hit my knee on the side of my dresser. “Shit!”

Josh stirred in the bed and saw me putting on my socks and shoes. “Baby, where are you going?”

I looked at him and contemplated lying to him; he didn’t deserve that. But I wasn’t prepared to tell him the truth though. “I’ll be back.”

Josh wasn’t satisfied with my answer and he got out of the bed. “Well, I’m coming with you.”

“No. I don’t need you to come. I need to...I just have to...I gotta go.” I rushed out of the room grabbing my cell phone. I was backing out of the driveway by the time Josh made it outside. Almost immediately, my cell phone started ringing and knowing it was Josh, I refused to answer. Instead, I called Daylon. It was almost 2 in the morning but I really needed my son to answer the phone.

“Ma, what’s wrong?” Daylon asked.

“Huh? Nothing. I need your daddy’s address. Why are you up?”

“I was just...chilling. Why do you need his address?” my son asked me. I knew he was with a little fast tail girl which was probably the reason he hasn’t been home since moving to Savannah. Maybe I should be a mama right now and give him the speech that I was entirely too young to be a grandma. I’d told him and Darius that a million times and so far it worked. But right now, I needed to get to his daddy.

“I couldn’t sleep so I’m updating stuff,” I lied. Thankfully my son was eager to get back to whatever little girl he was entertaining and gave me his dad’s address to get off the phone. I stopped at a gas station to fill up, put in David’s address and got on the road.

It wasn’t until I was pulling into his apartment complex that fear took me over. This man wasn’t talking to me for a reason. The entire three and a half hour drive, I ignored Josh’s calls and thought about what I would say to David. It was 5:30 in the morning and I was sitting outside of my ex-husband’s apartment. What the hell am I doing here?

I finally made up my mind to knock on the door and waited. He was a heavy sleeper so I knocked again but he still didn’t come to the door. His car was here so that means he was home.

Unless he stayed with someone else and she picked him up. Or he had someone in there with him. Either way, I was starting to feel like I missed my chance with him. Defeated I was going back to my car when a few doors down, a door opened and David emerged with a plunger in his hand followed by a woman. She had on a grey robe tied at the waist. Her chocolate skin looked smooth and her long weave secured in a ponytail. Her face looked...frustrated as if she didn’t want David to go. I wasn’t trying to stare but I immediately regretted driving three and a half hours without calling him first. I wanted to run and get in my car but I was stuck.

“Mel?” David stared at me as if he was trying to figure out if it was really me. The woman didn’t go back in her house; she stood in the door with her arms folded, probably mentally comparing herself to me just like I was doing to her. And from where I was standing, she has won.

“I’m sorry. I’m just...I’m...I’m gonna go,” I stammered. My feet finally moved and I somehow made it to my car. My tears made it almost impossible for me to see and I hit the push to start but I couldn’t move. Partially because I couldn’t see, partially because I’d made a complete fool of myself.

David opened my car door and again asked me why I was here.

“Doesn’t matter anymore,” I said while wiping my eyes. “You’ve moved on.”

“Moved on? What are you talking about?” He gave me a confused look then looked back at the woman standing in the door. She stared for a few more seconds before slamming her door. “Moved on with her? She’s just my neighbor, Mel and I just unclogged her toilet. Why are you here?”

“Unclogging her toilet at 5 in the morning?” I asked nastily. It was illogical but I wasn’t prepared to see him with someone else.

David cocked his head to the side. “Why is that any of your business? You make it abundantly clear that we are divorced so why is it any of your concern? Besides, don’t you have a man?” I couldn’t answer him because I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on. “Again...why are you here?”

I swallowed my fears and began to tell David why I drove across Georgia in the middle of the night. “Since you left, I can’t stop thinking about you. I miss you, David. I miss us. Josh is a good guy and all, but...I’ve started comparing him to you and now I realize that I need you. I need you in my life. I thought it was over, I thought I was over you, I thought getting divorced was the best thing for me but now I see it was the biggest mistake of my life. David, I’m sorry. So, so sorry. Can we try again? Please?”

I didn’t think he understood the last few words because by now, my words were marred by my trembling voice and sobs. I breathed deeply a few times and wiped my eyes trying to calm down. After a second, I noticed that David wasn’t saying anything. And then I started to panic.

“You know, when we divorced, I never felt that kind of pain before. I knew it was all my fault so I didn’t fight you on it. I knew I wasn’t there for you or the boys and that’s why I just let you go. I wanted to fight for you but I didn’t want to keep you anywhere you didn’t want to be.”

His voice was calm, gentle, soothing. I remember when I brought up divorce, his face was shocked and then, he was quiet. I continued telling him how I wasn’t happy and we’d grown apart. He kept trying to convince me not to do it but I wouldn’t change my mind. He finally told me he’d do anything I wanted to do. I never knew he wanted to fight for us; I took the decision away from him.

“I finally couldn’t live without you anymore, Mel,” David continued. “I tried but my life wasn’t the same without you in it so that night of my mama’s party, I took a chance. I thought it paid off...until I realized you were stringing me along. And that you had a man…”

David’s voice trailed off and I knew then, this conversation wasn’t going the way I needed it to. My tears started to fall again and David’s face didn’t register an ounce of sympathy.

“Mel, I don’t know if you’ve always been this selfish or if I was too in love to notice it. But I am not someone you can use and pick up when it suits you. I was your husband. I loved you for twenty years and then suddenly our marriage and our family wasn’t worth it to you. And now you expect me to just come running back after you chose another man?”

“Baby, I made the wrong decision. I know I did. With Josh and two years ago.” I finally found my words. I didn’t drive all this way to give up without a fight. “But not too long ago, you wanted us to get back together...what happened?”

“What happened was I realized I wasn’t going to give you another twenty years of my life only for you to walk away again. At the courthouse, I vowed to be here. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. For richer and for poorer. For the good and the bad, I vowed that as your husband, I was not leaving. And I meant that. But when you said I didn’t make you happy anymore, I didn’t know how to fight for you. I know I made that mistake of just letting you go. But right now, I am not going to let you take me through that hell again.”

David bent down and kissed me on my forehead before walking to his apartment. The anguish I felt must be the same way he felt when I pushed divorce down his throat two years ago.

Defeated, I left his apartment complex. I didn’t have enough energy to cry so I drove in almost silence as I wished I wouldn’t have let David go in the first place. He was right...I threw away twenty years and for what? I don’t even know.

I thought I was having fun being single and dating. And for a little while, it was fun. Well...it was more different than fun. After doing that for two years I discovered there was nothing like having my family and my husband. And thinking I’d outgrown him, I let him go. My best life wasn’t in dating new guys every other week and having casual sex. My best life was being David’s wife and the mother to our boys. Now, that I’ve lost the best thin that ever happened to me, I really didn’t know what to do.

******

“So you’re just going to stay home tonight? I told you that I’d cancel with Calvin if you needed me to,” Tisha informed me when we were getting off work.

“No! Don’t you dare! Go have fun with Calvin, I’ll be fine.”

My friend looked at me and I could tell she was grateful I didn’t make her cancel her date with her new man. Tisha and Calvin had been hanging pretty tough. She couldn’t find a single thing wrong with him and I knew she liked him.

“I just don’t want you to spend Valentine’s day alone. Or...you can call Josh,” Tisha suggested.

I rolled my eyes because we have talked about this over and over. After my debacle in Savannah when I tried to get my husband back, I had to let Josh go. Whether I was with David or not, I could not lie to myself. I wasn’t happy with Josh and I couldn’t pretend. He didn’t understand but I didn’t blame him. I didn’t understand what was going on with me either. But since David was done with me, I just couldn’t get right. I didn’t want to date, I didn’t want to talk to anyone else, I didn’t want anyone else.

I wanted David.

But after the way I treated him. I just needed to give up on him and let it go. I didn’t call him or text him. The only reason I knew he was alive was because of my boys.

“It’s fine, Tisha. I promise. I’m going to run to Ruby Tuesday to pick up my dinner, go get me a bottle of Red Electra and chill out. Catch up on my Shonda Land shows. I’ll be fine.”

Tisha opened her mouth to object but my phone rang and Darius’ name showed up. I waved at Tisha and got in my car. “What’s up Darius?”

“Hey Ma. What you doing tonight?”

I laughed at his concern. First Tisha, now Darius. Daylon was living it up in Savannah so I’m sure I wouldn’t hear from him today. “I’m fine Darius. I am an adult so I can handle myself on Valentine’s day.”

“Today’s Valentine’s day? I didn’t even know it,” Darius said.

“Boy you never were a good liar. You know what today is and I know you got Simone something. Don’t play with me. I’ll be fine chilling at home.”

Darius didn’t even try to hide the fact that I caught him in a lie. “I just wanted to check on you, Ma. I know you liked ol boy. Me and Daylon will just deal with it.”

It took everything me not to tell my son who I wanted was his daddy. But I wasn’t going to divulge my personal information. “Nah, that’s over. I’m just chilling now.”

“Ok, Ma. If you need me, just call me,” my son with sincerity. I smiled at his concern for me. Spending Valentine’s day alone wasn’t that big of a deal, especially when I’m the reason I’m alone.

I called Ruby Tuesday to order my dinner of salmon and double broccoli and I was grateful I was beating the Valentine’s dinner crowd. I went to the liquor store and got my wine and then went to go pick up my food.

At home, I walked into my kitchen and was met with a vase of white calla lilies. I smiled when I realized Darius called me earlier to see where I was to sneak these in here. Instead of a card inside the flowers, there was a greeting card beside it.

Melony,

I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need you, that I was over you. I tried to tell myself it was over. But I can’t stop thinking about you. I miss you. I love you...I’ve loved you for most of my life. And my life just isn’t the same without you in it…can we talk over dinner?

~David

I could hardly find my phone because of the tears making my vision blurry.

“Is that a yes or a no?”

I jumped at the sound of his voice. “David! What are you doing here?”

He didn’t answer me. Instead, he closed the space between us and kissed me passionately. He broke the kiss, leaving me breathless.

“I’m here to get my woman back.”

©2018 All rights reserved author Jennifer Robinson.

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